Community reports election sign vandalism

By From page A4 | October 26, 2012

On Tuesday, the United Democrats of El Dorado County and the Placerville Democratic Headquarters held a press conference at the site where a Barack Obama campaign sign was vandalized.

It was one of dozens that have been vandalized during this election season, said Betsy Kerr, manager of the Placerville Democratic Headquarters, who added that the same thing took place four years ago, “but it is much worse this time with more incidents of racial hatred including use of the N word.”

John Garon, member of the United Democrats of El Dorado County, said he parked his truck, with Obama signs on the top of it, at a local grocery store. Another shopper said , “Why are you supporting that N…..?”

United Democrats Vice President Richard Kerr reported he and his wife are among the victims of a rash of attacks on Obama campaign signs. “We secured two Obama signs with wire to a tree and a metal post so it took a considerable effort and time to remove them, but another sign about a proposition we put up remains untouched.”

Kerr said one local police officer said that the incidents reported about Obama signs included one being set on fire.

Gloria Smith, 90, lives at 3273 Sacramento Street, where the  press conference was held at the base of  the vandalized sign. Despite being a registered Republican, Smith enthusiastically supports Obama and allowed her son, Kirk Smith, to put up the sign.

“I made the sign very secure by bolting a 3 by 6 foot strong fabric banner on a nearly inch thick sheet of 5 by 8 foot plywood which was secured to two 4-inch wood posts buried in the ground,” said Kirk Smith. During the past weekend, the bolted fabric banner was ripped and an effort was made to remove the posts. He has since added 200 pounds of concrete to hold the posts in place and ordered a larger banner to replace the damaged sign.

As one who remembers the Depression and how President Franklin Roosevelt had a variety of government programs to create jobs, Gloria Smith said, “I’ve been proud to support (Obama). Obama has used the same kind of creative leadership to save America’s automobile industry and create jobs with a stimulus package like that Roosevelt would have done. If Roosevelt was elected to four terms as president to help end the Depression, how could anybody think Obama could completely get us out of the second worst economic disaster in just one term?”
She said she is very angry about the outrageous vandalism to the first political sign her family ever put up on the hill-top property. “It’s not a matter of being pro-Democrat or pro-Republican but being pro-American, defending the constitutional rights of free expression, freedom of association and the right to seek redress of grievances,” said Gloria Smith.

John McCoy, president of the United Democrats of El Dorado County denounced the  vandalism “for smearing a great area inhabited by wonderful, honest, hard-working people but also a haven for at least a few ignorant bigots. It’s an offense against American principles of freedom and the good name of this community.” 

No accurate account on the political vandalism is available because not all Obama signs used in the area are from our office; we have no way to contact those who have signs to follow up, and most victims we find do not report these crimes to police, discounting them as petty crimes,” said McCoy. “But we have a first-class police department here and we urge people to make reports about any sign of political crimes.”

“People need to report sign vandalism by calling the police,” said Kirk Smith. “When you call, a report is filed and there is a record. I grew up in Placerville and hardly ever heard the ‘N’ word, but now I hear it frequently.”

Chairman of the El Dorado County Republican Party Dallas Sweeney said that he had not received any reports of vandalism to the signs for Republican candidates. “During the primary, we had damage to two small signs for congressional candidates,” said Sweeney, “but they were more acts of mischief.”

Sweeney said he knows the work that goes into putting up signs for candidates. “It’s disappointing that people would be so disrespectful to destroy candidate signs,” he said. “We seem to have an attitude of meanness pervading society these days.”

Greg Jones, campaign manager for Joseph Hoffman, judicial candidate, said some of Hoffman’s signs were damaged in the spring before the primary. In the past week, others were removed or damaged in the Divide area. “When someone trespasses on private property with the intent to damage signs, it’s not only against the law, it’s reprehensible,” Jones said.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @WSchultzMtDemo. 

Wendy Schultz

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